Microsoft Needs To Release An Office for iPad App

The Daily posted two screenshots of what they claim to be Office for iPad. One screenshot showed what looks like the “start screen” of the app, where you can open and create documents, and the other showed the “Office” app icon.

Long story short, Mary-Jo Foley contacted Microsoft PR only to receive a response in which Microsoft flat-out mentioned that the photos are not of a real Microsoft product. They did not comment, however, on whether Office for iPad is indeed in the works. The Daily stood behind their screenshots, saying that they are not fake, and Microsoft fired off a tweet stating that they have “bad info”.

Office for iPad

While no solid information really surfaced that day, Microsoft’s PR reaction was interesting; they didn’t deny outright that they were working on an Office for iPad app. Furthermore, there’s even speculation that Microsoft plans to announce Office for iPad at the special iPad 3 announcement event on March 7th, and Microsoft wishes to keep its plans a tight secret until then.

But I mean, why would Microsoft not create an app for the iPad?

Microsoft’s Business Division – home to the Office group – recently overtook Windows as Microsoft’s main source of operating income, so it’s only right that they continue to cultivate and grow this cash cow. 55 million iPads were sold in total since the tablet’s debut in 2010, and it has proven to be untouchable in the tablet sector.

With those numbers in mind, surely Microsoft at least have plans to create an iPad app at some point. And as the iPad is sure to maintain growth and market share, I don’t think that by not already releasing an Office app, they will miss out on much revenue. In fact, one likely reason for this delay in releasing an app is that they wished to reserve Office as exclusive functionality of Windows Phones (having the world’s most popular productivity suite on your mobile device is yet another selling point, after all). Perhaps they may also have wanted to wait until the details to their own tablet strategy were worked out as well.

On that note, Microsoft’s strategy with Office on tablets is interesting; there won’t be a proper WinRT application, but they will be implementing a touch-optimized mode in the legacy version of Office. There is skepticism (including from myself) that this mode won’t be pleasant to use, but it’s still far too early to tell. What I suspect (and I’m crossing my fingers for) is that Microsoft plans to develop an awesome Metro touch alter-ego for Office.

iPad 2

Perhaps – if Microsoft will actually release an iPad version of Office this year – the edge that Microsoft will tout that Windows on ARM tablets have over the iPad is the ability to use the full-featured version of Office.

Whatever the case, profit is profit. Diversifying to iOS – and Android, too – would both increase income and show that Microsoft are maintaining relevance with newer mobile devices.

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